Weight Composite Chassis
The ability to utilise appropriate materials to make substantial reductions in vehicle
weight, whilst maintaining structural integrity and crashworthiness, is a major technical
limitation of existing products. This project takes a radically different approach to
material utilisation and manufacturing for vehicle chassis. We are seeking to formulate a
design philosophy and construction system which allows the manufacture of primary
structures in advanced materials to meet volume production requirements.
The project began with a unique collaboration between an undergraduate student team at
the University and Simon Milton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
who is now pursuing the project as a part-time research student. The immediate goals were
to design and manufacture a prototype vehicle with a lightweight composite chassis, and to
investigate its applicability to volume production as well as specialist markets.
A successful project was concluded in June 1996 with the assembly of a full size
prototype chassis. This will form the basis for further design and manufacturing
Initial testing of the torsional rigidity of the chassis as a structure was performed.
For a weight of 48 kg, the UniCar chassis achieved a torsional rigidity of 5900 Nm/deg and
a bending rigidity of 6095 Nm/mm.
The table below shows comparative data for some chassis constructions: 'Reference'
(current state of the art ), Ultra Light Steel Auto Bodies (ULSAB), aluminium extrusion
construction (Lotus Elise) and the Unicar flat sandwich panel construction. 'Reference'
and 'ULSAB' are monocoque, whilst the other two are chassis/body constructions.
STR = Specific Torsional Rigidity
A paper (Composite Sandwich Panel Manufacturing Concepts for a Lightweight
Vehicle Chassis) giving further details of the project was presented at 30th ISATA,
Florence in June 1997. A version of this paper (in .pdf format) is
available. You will of course need the free Adobe Acrobat
reader. Please contact Stephen Grove email@example.com
if you would like a hard copy.
EC and UK government funding for the continuation of this work is being sought. We
would welcome enquiries from potential collaborators in this project.
The University would like to thank Hexcel Composites,
Duxford, Cambridge, UK (phone +44 1223 833141) for their generous provision of F-board
sandwich panel for this project, and Eagle Signs, Plymouth for assistance with